The Long Beach Fire Department answers emergency calls around the clock, but on Friday, Dec. 4, they answered some very special calls from children hospitalized at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.

Firefighters hosted a virtual holiday event that was broadcast directly to each patient room through a closed-circuit television station at Miller Children’s & Women’s. The virtual event gave patients an inside look of Long Beach Fire Station 8, complete with a tour of a fire engine. During the broadcast, patients called into the station to ask questions about the fire engine and what it’s like to be a firefighter.  

And no holiday event would be complete without a visit from Santa. In true fire department fashion, Santa made a surprise entrance by sliding down the fireman’s pole. He took calls from dozens of patients, who were ecstatic to share their Christmas wish list directly with the big man in red.

“We have had a partnership with Miller Children’s & Women’s for more than two decades, where we volunteer and help bring joy to children in the hospital several times a year,” says Greg Curiel, fire captain, Long Beach Fire Department. “Normally during the holidays, we bring Santa and deliver gifts to the kids. Because of COVID-19 we were unable to make any of our visits this year, so it was really important for us to find a way to still brighten their spirits, especially around the holidays.”

This virtual event was organized by the Cherese Mari Laulhere Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s. The Child Life Program coordinates uplifting activities to ensure that patients have a more positive experience in the hospital.

“COVID-19 has made this a really challenging year for our patients,” says Rita Goshert, manager, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s & Women’s. “We’re so grateful to the Long Beach Fire Department for adapting to these challenges and finding a way to still bring joy to our patients and their families.”

Related Topics